|Football Bettor's Survey|
In contention for glory on two fronts
When the season kicked off back in August who would have thought that the final day of the English Premier League season would see the Champions League finalists fighting it out for all the glory?
Yes, not only are Chelsea and Manchester United heading to Moscow, they will also be involved in some final day drama with the league title up for grabs.
The self proclaimed greatest league in the world is finally living up to its billing as its top two are vying to be the top two in Europe as well as England. The league still looks as though it is heading to Old Trafford as Manchester United hold a strong advantage going into the final week. The Red Devils have a three point advantage and a superior goal difference but Chelsea do have a game in hand.
After Chelsea defeated United 2-1 at Stamford Bridge they did enough to keep the league going but were still looking for someone else to do them a favour. The first team to face Manchester United was West Ham United but they were quickly dismissed.
That Boy Ronaldo…
It only took a few minutes for player of the season, Christiano Ronaldo to cut inside and fire Manchester United into an early lead. Chelsea fans would have been dismayed with the ease that United opened up their visitors and although the Hammers created some chances soon after, worse was to follow for the Londoners.
Yet again, that boy Ronaldo was in the right place at the right time as he bundled home a Hargreaves cross to make it 2-0 and score his 40th goal of the season. 40 goals is a tremendous return for any player and the Portuguese star can be rightly proud of his achievements. To put it into perspective, Derby have only managed to score twenty goals in the league this season. Christiano Ronaldo has scored twice the goals this season that Derby have managed in the league, which says a lot about the season they've had.
Still, a Carlos Tevez wonder strike and a deflected Michael Carrick shot put United on easy street and even a Dean Ashton goal and a Nani red card did not deflect the league leaders from their procession. United now face a final day trip to Wigan where they know that any victory will clinch the title.
Chelsea firstly have a tricky trip to St James Park to face a revitalized Newcastle United. This trip is certainly looking tougher than it previously did as the Magpies have discovered some form under Kevin Keegan. These are the games that title contenders need to win and anything other than a Chelsea win will make it virtually impossible to clinch the league.
Final Day Drama
Assuming that Chelsea hold their nerve and return from Newcastle with all three points, then the teams at the top of the league will be tied on 84 points. Chelsea will be at home to Bolton and Manchester United travel to Wigan. Wigan are safe from relegation and Bolton are virtually assured of Premier League safety but would take a string of strange results to send them down. This means that both of the title challengers will be heavy favourites to win their matches and if it goes to form, Manchester United will have sealed another title.
For Chelsea to have any hope, United need to drop something against a club managed by an ex Manchester United captain, Steve Bruce. Bruce has already made it very clear that he wants to see United win the league and Chelsea fans will be feeling very unfortunate that the fixtures have provided this final day match for United. If a shock does happen, Chelsea will need to better United's result to be crowned champions. A United draw would see Chelsea having to win to be champions or if United lose, Chelsea will clinch the league by avoiding defeat.
It is certainly a tricky proposition for the London club to face but they will be retaining some hope that a final day slip up will see them able to steal the title.
However, Chelsea will feel as though they have a far bigger chance of winning the Champions League in Moscow. No doubt Blues owner Roman Abramovich will be delighted to take his team to his own country in their conquest for European glory. The recent Chelsea win over United at Stamford Bridge will have boosted the team’s confidence of defeating their rivals in a one-off final. Jose Mourinho may no longer be the man in charge of Chelsea but Avram Grant may make himself the special one if he can guide the Blues to European glory.
Standing in his way will be Alex Ferguson, a man on a mission to win his second Champions League and further his reputation but both men have battled against criticism this season. Both teams had an indifferent start to the season and although there was no chance of United parting company with Fergie like Chelsea did with Mourinho, there were questions being asked of his team early on. A home draw against Reading and a defeat at Manchester City had some people ludicrously ruling United out of the title race but unsurprisingly, they have bounced back strongly.
Similarly, Avram Grant was not a popular choice with many of the clubs fans when he replaced the Special One but it would be hard to criticize the work he has done. Defeating Arsenal and United in the league as well as knocking Liverpool out of the Champions League has surely kept Grant in a job for next season.
Home Is Where the Heart Is For Roman
It seems strange to be questioning the future of a manager who taken his team to the final of football’s top club competition and remains in with a chance of the title but Chelsea aren't your normal club. Without the Russian millions, who knows where Chelsea would be but there is definitely something ironic that their big chance of becoming a major team should occur in the country of where their benefactor hails from. If Chelsea manage to win the Champions League you can expect the party in Russia to last all summer.
The Premier League may be looking as though it is heading to Manchester but the destination of the Champions League is anyone’s guess. The Blues will have nothing to fear when facing the Red Devils and they will know they can beat them in a one-off match. The two teams faced each other in last years FA Cup final in a match that was hugely forgettable and it can only be hoped that this year's showcase between the two teams match is better.
By Andrew Reilly
for The Silver Circle at www.footballtip.co.uk
I've been a member since July 2003, maybe one of the first to join the Silver Circle. 2004 was a good year but I really enjoyed the long run we had in, I think, July 2005. It was exhilarating! 2006-2007 was not as exciting although still quite profitable and so far 2007-2008 looks quite good. I'm wondering if we're going to hit a long one again soon. Anyway, it's been a pleasure as always with your service, Greg. Armstrong and you are one of the few people I trust on the internet. You have made my retirement so much more fun and financially happy!
Best Wishes, Trent Wrayford, Sidney